It’s no secret that Hollywood actors need to undergo some brutal training to get prepared for various movie roles – just take a look at Christian Bale or virtually the entire male Marvel cast – and the latest star to display some serious commitment to the gym for a movie role is Alexander Skarsgård.
The 45-year-old Swedish actor stars in The Northman, an epic historical fiction film that sees Skarsgård play Amleth, a figure in Scandinavian legend who sets out on a quest to avenge the murder of his parents. Naturally, a Nordic Viking who has to scale mountains and swing heavy weapons to murder anyone who gets in his way, will require some serious strength and intimidating size.
Whilst Alexander Skarsgård wasn’t exactly out of shape before preparing for the role, he did need to put on some muscle. And, judging by a still from the movie currently circulating the web (posted above), it’s abundantly clear that’s exactly what he did. But, just how did he do it?
According to Variety, he enlisted the services of personal trainer Magnus Lygdback, who Skarsgård previously worked with to get into shape for the 2019 movie, Tarzan. Speaking to Variety, Lygdback said Skarsgård’s character in the movie has a “spirit animal [of] a wolf and a bear so we wanted to really build that into the character.” The goal was to create a character with the agility of a wolf, but the physical size of a bear. Not necessarily an easy task.
To achieve such a figure, Esquire adds Skarsgård had to hit the gym six days a week for six months, with each session lasting around an hour. Lygdback said he doesn’t bother with gruelling 2-3 hour sessions because “all you do after the first hour is just start to break down your body.”
He elaborates by saying “I like to do a 4-day split normally with my male actors. Which means you target each muscle group much harder and then allow it to rest while training other body parts. Strength training is the main focus.”
There is often debate among the fitness community as to which training method is the best. Some, like Lygdback, choose to target specific muscle groups on separate days. Others will employ a range of push-pull workouts – push one day, pull the next – followed by a leg day. This is repeated twice a week to complete six days of training.
“We trained for 6 months to prep. If you get less than 3 months then you can’t do a build-up and a cutting cycle, you have to do one long lean mass gaining cutting cycle. When you get more than 3 months, like we did, you can do 2 training cycles. The build-up and the cutting.”
He continues, “We did less HIIT training this time and more strength training. We did lower reps to get stronger.”
What Marcus means here refers to the longheld belief and knowledge that lifting heavier loads, with lower reps, is what is required to build strength, as opposed to size. As we’ve discussed before, using information provided by Healthline, “For muscular strength, you reduce the number of reps in a set (exercise volume) while increasing the intensity (adding heavier weights). Typically, the rest period between sets for strength is 3 to 5 minutes.”
“We integrated a lot of shoulder and hip stability/mobility work to prepare him for swinging an axe and running around. Alex is the hardest worker in the room, that’s why he looks that way. He makes my job very easy. He should have the credit for this, not me.”
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Of course, while Alexader Skarsgård did have a world-class personal trainer and time to dedicate to the gym, it goes to show that nobody can expect results overnight. If you can commit to a good few months, or even a few years of a well-rounded strength training program – and an equally impressive meal plan – you too will eventually notice some dramatic results.